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This article was published in U.S. 1 Newspaper on November 24,
1999. All rights reserved.
Life in the Fast Lane: Maritz
Maritz has been selling gold watches for more than
a century, and 60 years ago it began to offer a program to motivate
salespeople with trophy gifts and travel. Now Maritz Performance
Company has broadened its approach. By dramatically upgrading the
old-fashioned suggestion box, Maritz now offers reward incentives
to all levels of employees, including hourly workers, at more than
In these programs workers get rewards for cost cutting or revenue
increasing ideas. "In some cases we have helped to save more than
a billion dollars," says Mark Syp, group vice president at 502
Carnegie Center. "We design a team, we go into the field, we put
a beginning and end to the program, and we create a high level of
excitement and involvement." The result: "The ideas that
come up with are incredible."
For instance, an airline mechanic had been trying for years to get
management to shut off the airplanes when they were being serviced.
Under the Maritz incentive program, he was finally given a voice,
and his suggestion saved millions of dollars in fuel costs. Another
winner was the flight attendant who noticed passengers were not eating
the olives in the salad. Just eliminating those olives saved several
hundred thousand dollars. "It gives everyone ownership in their
company," says Syp.
Maritz Performance Improvement Company is a $2.2 billion firm based
in Fenton, Missouri, near St. Louis. It is famous for its travel
— trips to exotic places offered as sales prizes. Now it does
all kinds of "back office" operations, integrating research,
communications, learning, measurement and feedback, rewards, and
to achieve the goals of Fortune 100 clients.
The regional office was located at the Forrestal Center until 1990,
when it moved to Bridgewater. But now Maritz has moved back, at first
on a temporary basis to Carnegie 103, finally to permanent quarters
in Carnegie Center’s newest building, 502. Its 8,600-square-foot space
on the second floor was designed by Joel David Zieden to have both
a client conference room and a working conference room or "think
Maritz draws from the firms in the Fortune 100 pool for its clients
because buying Maritz services is a big commitment. "The way
is of value is if you are purchasing a full package of our
says Syp. "If you just want us to `fulfill’ toothpaste (send out
samples) a niche player may be able to do that at a lower cost."
Among Maritz’ major clients in this area, for instance, are AT&T,
Lucent, and First USA bank.
In the Maritz toolbox are tools to do the following: a marketing plan
(alone or with an ad agency), creative communications (again, alone
or with the client’s ad agency), market research and systems reporting
(segmenting or profiling customer and product information),
(including "secured" fulfillment of valuables such as jewelry
or software), and training.
If somebody wants to buy an AT&T cellular phone, for example, Maritz
takes the calls, provides the calling plan, the fulfillment and
plans (programming the phones in the warehouse and shipping the
and — though it does not do the billing — it starts the
process in motion.
"We have staff second to none in creative communications —
at last count we are second in size only to Disney — but we work
with a lot of freelance people," says Syp. And yes, freelancers
and would-be full-timers should apply here. The office has 14 workers
and will staff up to 25 plus freelancers. "We do use local
talent," says Syp. "Here in the MidAtlantic States Market
Group, we select the team to work on the projects."
Though it has rivals in the corporate and individual travel
Maritz is the largest group travel company in the nation. In this
area its chief competitor is the Carlson Travel Network. On the
side, any of the hotel networks is a rival. For fulfillment, mailing
out the orders, thousands of companies do this, including a half-dozen
in the Princeton area. And then there are the millions of ad agencies.
"We used to give out a book, describing all the services that
Maritz provides, titled `I Had No Idea’," says Syp. "When
we took clients on a tour of our St. Louis facility invariably they
would leave saying `I had no idea Maritz does all this.’"
Central to Maritz’ business are the prizes and trophies it offers.
The founder of Maritz 103 years ago was an emigrant watchmaker from
Switzerland. "Around the time of the Depression, when he wasn’t
selling many watches, he approached a friend who was a hat
offering to run a program for the salespeople. For every X amount
of hats sold, the salesman won a watch."
In the past, the traditional trophy list might have featured the
gold watch for 25 years of service or the engraved plaque for employee
of the month. The up-to-date version is a smart card, offered in
with American Express. "Say you work for Lucent," says Syp.
"You are required to do XYZ to hit an objective and earn 1,000
points. Your points are loaded into a debit card so you can shop with
them at any participating retailer. At Macy’s, for instance, they
swipe the card, and to the cashier it is transparent. It is good at
50,000 different places, and we also have a catalog."
Catalogs and smart cards offer guilt-free shopping because, as Syp
points out, you can’t use them to pay dental bills. And catalogs for
incentive gifts are not as old-fashioned as they seem. "We are
seeing more of a need for catalogs than in the past, partly because
people like to shop at home. The catalog is also available on the
web and can be customized for each client."
Mark Syp’s first lessons in salesmanship came from his
father, the proud owner of a profitable gas station in Bayonne.
dad had an outgoing nature and was a good joke teller," says Syp.
"One of my favorite pictures is of my dad in the 1950s sitting
outside of his beautiful station with a Pepsi in his hand." One
of his first experiences with incentives came when he and his brother,
assigned to paint the station fence, decided to throw rocks instead,
and instead broke their father’s windshield. Their reward: no
for a lesson learned.
Syp went to Fairfield University in Connecticut, Class of 1976, and
started out as a regional sales vice president for an office equipment
manufacturer. He came to Maritz 15 years ago, was made regional vice
president 10 years ago, and last year was promoted to be one of six
national group vice presidents. He and his wife, Kathy, have two
Syp relishes his job because it gives him "the opportunity to
learn so much about corporate America. We are privy to more
about our client’s organization than most employees. We learn in one
year more about the organization than most people learn in 30
He has traveled around the world on some of Maritz’ notable trip
The company heads, Bill and Steve Maritz, host annual "master’s
trips" for top performers — the most recent was to South
Trophies are very important, says Syp, and for all levels of employees
they rank right after the basics of shelter, food, security, and
acceptance in human needs. "Once you hit those, you are moving
to personal esteem," says Syp. "Now you are earning those
things that lead to self realization — to being the best that
you can be."
"If you asked me how much cash did you get for being group vice
president of the year, I wouldn’t pull out my checkbook," says
Syp. "But if you walked into my home and saw the grandfather
I would say I earned that. That’s one of my trophies. The trophy
with a non-cash award is easier to display. We practice what we
— Barbara Fox
Center, Suite 102, Princeton 08540. Mark Syp, group vice president.
609-520-9393; fax, 609-520-9396. Home page:
A November 17 article about Ray Disch, the power
who helps groups of companies negotiate with electric suppliers,
said that Disch’s company, PowerWorks LLC, will be representing the
New Jersey Chamber of Commerce, the National Federation of Independent
Businesses, and the New Jersey Newspaper Association. Instead, Disch
will be presenting proposals to these organizations.
In this period of no inflation, buy bonds, says Roger
Klein, an economist at Interest Rate Futures Research Corp. And not
just any bonds. "The asset I really like is inflation index bonds
issued by the Treasury," says Klein. "These bonds are sold
on the basis of the `real yield’ before inflation. That `real yield’
is almost comparable to the real return of stocks over long periods
of time, but these bonds expose you to significantly less risk than
you would have with stock."
A self-described follower of Milton Friedman, Klein takes a monetarist
approach to managing investment; he carefully watches the actions
of the Federal Reserve Bank. He moved from a 2,250 square-foot leased
space at 15 Roszel Road and has bought a 1,300-foot property at
Business Park; phone and fax are new. The three-person research
also has an investment advisory firm, Timing Strategies Corp., and
a newsletter, Klein Wolman Investment Letter.
Klein grew up in Queens, where his father was a lawyer and his mother
a bookkeeper. He majored in economics at Bates College in Maine, Class
of 1964, and earned a PhD from Michigan. His wife, Patricia, works
in the firm, and they have one daughter who is a teacher and another
who just graduated from Bard as a film major.
Klein and his wife found and designed their own new quarters. "We
had excess space where we were, and we had been there 10 years,"
he says. He has been managing money and writing the Klein Wolman
Letter since 1976, just after he and his partner, Bill Wolman, wrote
a book, "The Beat Inflation Strategy," published by Simon
The 1,000 subscribers to the investment letter pay $149 annually but
many of them are Klein’s money management clients as well. Wolman,
Klein’s co-author, is economics editor of Business Week and a
on CNBC. The pair had worked together on Wall Street at CitiBank and
Interest Rate Futures Research consults to financial institutions.
Last year he closed another firm, a commodities trading advisory firm
named Futures Strategies Corp. Through a firm called Timing Strategies
Corp., Klein is an SEC-registered advisor to manage the money of about
200 clients. He favors index funds, particularly those offered by
Vanguard, partly because of its low expenses.
Inflation seems to be in abeyance, in this period that economists
call "decelerating inflation," but Klein still has several
hundred copies of the book. "If inflation ever comes back it will
be an interesting book," says Klein.
Quakerbridge Business Park, Suite 7, Mercerville 08619. Roger Klein,
president. 609-588-4444; fax, 609-588-4440.
A Metropolitan Life branch office with 4,200 square
feet on Lenox Drive has expanded to 6,000 square feet at 168 Franklin
Corner Road. "We were in a space not easily accessible for
People were getting lost left and right," says Marcus J. Hinz,
At the same time, it changed its name to reflect a new core business.
It is no longer limited to selling insurance but also sells stocks,
bonds, and mutual funds, and does pension planning and estate
"We are brokers for various insurance agencies as well as our
own," says Hinz. "and the same with mutual funds — we
sell proprietary and non proprietary funds."
The 37-year-old native of Frankfurt, Germany, Hinz is the son of a
civil engineer. He majored in accounting at Georgian Court College
and earned an MBA from Monmouth University. He is married and has
a one-year-old son.
The $400 billion company has been a mutual company, held by the policy
holders, for 132 years but plans to go public in the year 2000.
Hinz is not worried about losing clients to Internet-based quote
"My experience is that we need to help a client understand how
the insurance purchase fits in with the financial objective and the
budget. One product does not fit all," says Hinz. For instance,
one policy may be suitable for estate planning rather than pension
planning. "We also need to fit the product to the client’s asset
base. If you have $100,000 of assets and you are not married, you
might not need life insurance," says Hinz.
He cites a 28-year-old man, single, who rides a motorcycle to work.
He has health insurance, no liabilities, and makes $45,000 a year.
"With X amount of dollars to spend, I told him he is better off
taking disability insurance. If he were to become disabled, life
wouldn’t do him any good."
Road, Lawrenceville 08648. Marcus J. Hinz MBA, general manager. Jason
Weigand, associate director. 609-896-0013; fax, 609-896-0525.
Street, Pennington 08534. 973-992-6812; fax, 973-535-1034. Home
Formerly known as Research Assistance Corporation, this
company is opening a second office in Pennington and adding two
Michael Mitrano and Sherri Neuwirth. Steve Sherrill founded the firm
in 1993 and occupies an exclusive niche: to assist buyers and sellers
of companies in the marketing research industry.
Sherrill was CFO for Market Measures. Mitrano had been executive vice
president of Response Analysis Corporation and chief financial officer
of the Chauncey Group International Ltd. Neuwirth had been senior
vice president and general manager at Equifax/Elrick & Lavidge. With
Mitrano and Neuwirth on board, the firm will be able to provide
services both before and after a sale.
Princeton 08540. Charles Sandler. 732-355-0070; fax, 732-355-0073.
This builder, which moved from Emmons Drive to Jefferson Plaza, is
constructing homes at Forest Gate at Lawrence with a minimum price
2329, Princeton 08543-2329. G. Christopher Baker, managing partner.
609-924-1199; fax, 609-683-5251.
Princeton University has bought the Alexander Street building owned
by this law firm, and the practice will be moving to a 7,000
space at a location, as yet unannounced, in West Windsor. The general
practice firm focuses on land use, real estate, litigation, estate
planning, and there are nine attorneys.
Route 130 South, North Brunswick 08902. Jim Asghar, president.
This printing and duplicating firm expanded last month from Commerce
Drive to nearly 5,000 square feet at this location. Phone and fax
remain the same.
Avenue, Straube Center, Box 322, Pennington 08525-0322. Shelley Pavon,
owner. 609-737-1211; fax, 609-466-2904.
Earlier this fall the school moved from Route 518 (Rambling Pines
Day Camp) to the Straube Center, where it expanded its day-care
to include infants through kindergarten and can offer a day camp.
Trenton 08628. Domenick Mazzagetti, president. 609-883-1300; fax,
609-883-0653. Home page: http://www.njmbank.com.
The New Jersey Manufacturing Insurance Company, having opened a
thrift bank, has applied to federal regulators to do electronic
over a soon-to-be revised website. The bank provides personal checking
and savings accounts plus home mortgages, and the website will offer
accounts management and electronic paying services. The bank has
a contract for the website with an Internet consultant, nFront, based
in Norcroft, Georgia. The bank provides personal checking and savings
accounts and home mortgages.
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